Before Bernhard Willhelm became the poster child of kitsch, W& LT (Wild and Lethal Trash) sated edgy consumer tastes for toy-influenced and anime-inspired quirky clothes. In the mid to late ’90s, W& LT pioneer Walter Van Beirendonck created a breakthrough fashion language where it wasn’t uncommon to see models in alien headgear and thrash comic printed daywear and complete bodysuits descending the runway. Combining impeccably tailored pieces with a little something different (orange plastic tubing or inflatable sections, for example) Beirendonck was heralded a design visionary. Since 1999, Beirendonck has been quietly building his Walter Beirendonck line. First only selling from Walter, his multi-brand store in Antwerp, he has recently expanded distribution and is beginning to have the impact W& LT used to have. You need only take a look at Beirendonck’s naked animation of himself on the homepage of his website or on many pieces in his collections to see that his sense of humor and irreverent signature are in full force. For the Futureday spring ’04, it’s an A Clockwork Orange-inspired collection of vibrant colored t-shirts, cartoon printed sweatshirts, slogan printed dresses, fitted jackets and a slew of quirky pieces with surprising detailing that defy categorization. His fall ’04 Cloudy Stars collection showed masked crusaders hamming it up in tasty knits with clouds, lighting bolts, stars and monkey prints or Cloudy Stars and Walter etched across the front and down the sleeves of t-shirts. Walter Van Beirendonck sells at Kokon To Zai in Paris, United Arrows in Tokyo, Selfridges in London, and Seven in New York.
Photos: Beirendonck fall ’04